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It was also part of the same region portrayed in John O’Hara’s , Hazleton’s flourishing past also had a darker history. The region’s oppressive and dangerous mining industry instigated labor disputes and political violence.In 1897, striking miners marching just outside Hazleton were massacred by a Luzerne County sheriff’s posse.Hazleton’s prosperity was the consequence of geological serendipity.The city sits on the world’s richest vein of anthracite coal, which propelled a massive influx of immigrants to Hazleton from Ireland, Italy, and Eastern Europe in the 19th century.In the 1960s and 1970s, the city’s redevelopment authority, armed with federal funding, oversaw the clearance of residential and commercial blocks in the city’s Donegal Hill neighborhood.The city’s intention was to recruit new businesses and increase parking for downtown merchants.
Upon arrival, they settled in one of Hazleton’s surrounding coal-company-owned “patch towns,” and along with other Irish newcomers eventually established their own ethnic enclave—Donegal Hill—which abutted the city’s downtown.
The shocking event mobilized miners and, within five years, led to major victories for the United Mine Workers.
Subsequent UMW strikes, compounded by a declining demand for coal after World War I, imperiled much of Hazleton’s economic health.
It was a city of extremes—massive wealth and widespread poverty, grand Victorian mansions and dilapidated shanties—but its residents, whether beneficiaries or casualties of its economy, adopted an enduring pride in their melting-pot culture.
Moran appreciated this culture, but he also resented the community leaders’ disregard for Hazleton’s architectural and industrial heritage.